Pennsylvania’s Medical Malpractice Costs Dropping, Says Gov. Rendell

October 26, 2007

The amount of money paid by a state medical malpractice insurance fund will decline for a fourth straight year, a sign that the state’s malpractice problem is improving, Gov. Ed Rendell said.

The Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error fund will pay about $191 million in claims this year, half of what was paid in 2003, when Rendell took office, the governor said during a news conference in Philadelphia.

The fund helps pay the cost of malpractice claims that rise above the $500,000 in primary coverage that the state requires each doctor to secure from the private marketplace.

“Pennsylvania is a success story when it comes to medical malpractice,” Rendell said. “Thanks to thoughtful legislative reforms passed in 2002, along with aggressive judicial and administrative reforms implemented since then, the number of malpractice cases being filed and the cost of malpractice insurance continue to drop.”

A 2002 law ended the practice of “venue shopping,” in which attorneys could move cases to counties they considered to have more favorable juries.

Dr. Peter S. Lund, president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, a statewide doctors’ lobbying group, said that while the medical malpractice climate has improved somewhat, it still compares poorly to other states.

As the demand for health care has increased in recent years, the number of Pennsylvania doctors has remained about the same, Lund said.

The medical society has advocated monetary caps on awards for pain and suffering in medical malpractice lawsuits to reduce insurance costs, but has been unsuccessful in persuading the Legislature to pass such a measure.

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